Original Writeup

DAN FROM DOWNINGTON Releases Official Music Video “Without You”

by wpengine

Rather than focusing on one genre, he aims to make music that speaks to people; something palpable that they can feel in their bodies. 

Dan is a musician, percussionist, and singer-songwriter from Downington, Pennsylvania. He was born and raised in Chester County, which is a crossroads for all walks of life, including the Amish, and mountain folk. Rather than focusing on one genre, he aims to make music that speaks to people; something palpable that they can feel in their bodies. 

“Without You” is a lyrically dark tune, a beautiful coronach for a season passed. At the beginning of the music video, we are dropped into Dan’s world, surrounded by the sounds of nighttime crickets, and the sight of cars in a parking lot. As a pair of dress shoes walks slowly on the pavement, we get the sense that we are about to experience someone else’s life for the next 3 minutes. 

Layers and layers of unsettling and agitated voices infiltrate the peace and quiet. As the walker lights up a cigarette, the bass comes in. But before things get too bleak, the spicy trap drums come in, and we catch the glimpse of a simper. 

“It’s been so long since I forgot you

And my life has fallen away” 

As he throws a crumbling on the ground he intones;

“Before I thought I swore we’d never

Leave each other to face the day

But as the sun still shined all we did was fight” 

We get the sense that the artist is taking his glumness with a side of grim humor, as his figure splices around the video in a black hoodie. As an orchestra of emotional strings enter, the lyrics continue pondering;

“It’s been so long since I have heard you I can’t remember your voice 

Every little lost conversation 

I’m not sure if I have mentioned

That every time I saw your smile, it’d make me love you, at least for a while” 

Dan from Downington has bagged an emotion I didn’t think was possible to capture- That “je ne sais quoi” of a feeling when you want to hear someone’s voice again, but instead, you mourn the loss of your memories that have faded into the ether. 

At the halfway mark our ears are treated with tasty upper and lower harmonies, just before the sky turns black at the entrance of a climactic low synth.  The vocal lamentations blend in with the fuzz so you can barely hear the ghosts in the past, and a guitar dripping with sentimentality sets us up for the final chorus and fade out. The crowning stroke of “Without You” are the layers of interwoven and staggered vocal lines. 

Be sure to check Dan from Downington out on Tiktok, and stay tuned for the release of his EP, Stasis.


Q&A With the Artist:

When can we expect Stasis to drop? 

The plan is to release Stasis at some point in mid-April.  I will of course announce it as we get closer, but for now I will be releasing 2 other singles beforehand.  One in February, and one in March.  My idea was to spread half of the songs on this EP out within a couple months, and then glue them all together with a couple other tunes for the whole piece.  The whole EP is designed to sort of flow together from one song to another, almost like you’re reading a story.  I’m looking to build up some of that suspense.

How does your older music compare to the music you’ve recently released? 

The music that I am doing now is not really similar at all.  Before I started this project, I was playing and touring in punk rock and metal bands as a drummer.  I have a great appreciation for both those styles of music, and I still regularly play around my local area with a couple of bands.  But in terms of how I write, I wanted to do something a bit different.  I do try to throw a little nod to my roots in my recordings,  but the stuff that I am playing now is definitely a bit more experimental for me.  Just how I like it! 

You mentioned doing some shows in the near future- What venues would you like to perform at in the Northeast?

I haven’t really thought about it yet.  It’s still a little too early to tell, but I definitely would like to do at least one show or live stream towards the end of the year.  I’m not sure if or where this would take place yet, but when it does I would love to play somewhere in my home area of Philadelphia, or just west of it.  I don’t really have a particular venue in mind yet.

Are the other fusion tracks on your album with a trap beat? If not, what other surprising elements does it contain? 

I don’t know if you would call them “trap beats,” but every song on the EP has a healthy dose of electronic, and live instrumentation.  I don’t want to give too much of what I am doing away before it hits the airwaves, but there is still quite a bit of fusion going on.  As I mentioned, the EP is designed to flow from one song to another. I wanted to make it feel like the whole EP is a big emotional rollercoaster.  And the final drop is at the end…

You mentioned that you are shy. How does performing on a stage make you feel? 

I actually love it!  It’s quite frankly one of my favorite things to do in music.  However, there is sort of a disconnect between the different roles a person plays on stage.  Up until now, I was the drummer in the back of the band.  I still performed the best that I could, and I had my moments to shine.  But it’s a much different feeling to be in the back of the band away from the spotlight, versus standing two feet from the crowd.  It almost feels like you’re alone when you aren’t looking at your bandmates the whole time.  I still absolutely want to perform this music, but it definitely will be a different experience.

How did you process the vox on this one? 

Very carefully, haha.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in terms of a vox chain.  So I messed with the plug-ins on my computer, with some guidance from my friend and engineer Dom Delore.  The main plug-ins that we used were Nectar and Neutron, from Izotope.  We used a fair amount of saturation, compression, reverb, and distortion.  If I remember correctly, we also played around with a vocoder for a bit of texture.  But the whole process was basically… “pick a plug-in”… “Turn a few knobs”… “See if it sounds cool”… and repeat!  We did this differently for every single song on the EP.  

So you and your friend filmed this yourself. What tune do you plan on making a music video for next? 

I’m currently making a music video for every single on this EP.  The next single, which is called “Sunlight” has its own music video, as well as the one after.  Dom did a fantastic job running the camera for “Without You,” which made it that much easier for me to edit the video.  These other two videos are a bit more of a challenge, because I’m doing the whole process myself.  But so far, I like what I see. 

Lastly… I heard a rumor that this single is the result of a drunken evening. How exactly did this tune come to fruition? Can you tell us more about the live and MIDI instruments you chose?

Haha!  “Drunken evening,” I love it!…  So “Without You” was the first song that I ever sat down and seriously wrote.  Well, actually I sort of stumbled around and wrote it… Basically, when I decided that I wanted to start this project, I didn’t really know how to write a song.  I knew what I wanted to write about, but I didn’t know how to get it out of my head.  Then on one particularly crazy week, it all came out.  One night, I crushed three quarters of a handle of vodka.  It wasn’t even good vodka!  It was the kind of stuff restaurants use to clean the grill!  And during the “crushing of vodka,” I found myself sitting at my MIDI keyboard.  I hit literally two chords, and the chorus just jumped right into my head.  I immediately hit record on my laptop, and I came up with the structure of the song in about five minutes.  Once I had a basic piano part, I programmed the drum machine, and then recorded live drums.  My friend Mike Bala recorded the electric guitar parts through an AXE-FX.  I doubled a bass guitar with a heavily distorted 808 to get that driving lowend.  And after that I just started adding layers and layers of synthesizers.  I can’t remember exactly what I used off the top of my head.  Some of them were basic logic synthesisers, with a chain of plugins slapped on them.  Others were recorded through a Kontakt library, courtesy of my friend Dom again.  But most of the sounds you hear are from me messing with the EQ and distortion in post.  And quite frankly, that whole process is how I recorded most of this EP!


Follow Dan at the following:  https://linktr.ee/danfromdowningtown

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